The Week in Review -- February 19, 1999

The Markets

  2/12 Close 2/19 Close Change %Change
DJIA 9,274.89 9,339.95 +65.06 +0.70
S&P 500 1,230.13 1,239.16 +9.02 +0.73
Nasdaq 2,321.89 2,283.44 -38.50 -1.66

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Where the Coyotes Howl
by Jerry Thomas (tmfcheeze@aol.com)

Greetings, Fools.

Sometimes I feel like I'm Wile E. Coyote and the world is an Acme rocket. It certainly seemed that way this week, what with my Internet connections working only intermittently. As much as I plotted to seize the elusive Roadrunner of electronic communication, I instead found myself ricocheting off the side of a mesa, careering headlong into Dropped Signal Gulch -- usually while holding a couple of lit sticks of dynamite. Believe me, life is no fun when you're living in a Chuck Jones cartoon, or worse, when you're locked in a death struggle with your Internet Service Provider. The ingenuity of my efforts meant nothing; no, the universe seemed rigged to foil my every attempt in the most humiliating way possible. In short, it's a wonder I was able to file this report at all. Thank god for carrier pigeons. Kaboom.

I gather that this week shareholders of Dell Computer (Nasdaq: DELL) are feeling similarly thwarted. Expectations were running high, and went unmet when Dell's revenues fell short. The Coyote paints a fake tunnel on the side of a cliff, only to find himself smacked by a real train emerging from it -- same thing. Naturally, our crack animators at Team Fool were all over the story. Dale Wettlaufer (TMF Ralegh) examined the company and the industry from a Boring perspective, while Warren Gump (TMF Gump), in Tuesday's Fool on the Hill, reminded us that it is, as ever, the long term that matters. In spite of the current volatility, Dell is still trading up several hundred percent since the beginning of last year. Not bad, even if you're impatient.

But forgive me this week if I sound frustrated. Not even feeding the bird iron pellets and pointing a giant Acme Magnet at it helped me connect. Worse, it seemed as if all Fooldom was conspiring to taunt me in my troubles, as Fools everywhere were writing and discussing the future of cyberspace and the companies that are building it. Nico Detourn (TMF Nico) was there, mocking me with a most provocative analysis of the emergence of this new medium, The Promise of the Internet. What sort of global power shifts might we experience once a substantial portion of international commerce moves to cyberspace? Hey, ask Nico, not me. I'm lucky I can even get a dial tone.

Of course, there was the giant Acme Slingshot idea. Firing myself directly at the screen with a huge rubber band didn't help me load Web pages any faster, but it sure was entertaining to listen to the distant thud I made, kicking up the dust at the bottom of a fretfully deep Arizona canyon. If only I had the luck of Chief Yahoo! Jerry Yang (cyberspacius billionairius). A few years ago he was hacking together a glorified address book in some basement somewhere. Now he's a major figure in the biggest communications revolution since Gutenberg's Bible. Yang's company, Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), received a major Foolish endorsement this week when it was added to the Rule Maker Portfolio. Fool Rob Landley recounted Yahoo's amazingly brief (and briefly amazing) history in Thursday's Rule Maker Report.

Meanwhile, Louis Corrigan (TMF Seymor) continued his study of Internet companies by taking a look at the future of e-commerce. In back-to-back Fool on the Hill essays, Louis looks at both Onsale (Nasdaq: ONSL) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN), and explores the advantages that give these companies so many tantalizing possibilities. Whether that promise is fulfilled remains to be seen; it could still blow up in our faces like that bomb with the short fuse Wile E. is preparing to heft toward the highway.

But that's the way of the world, isn't it? Coyotes gotta chase road fowl, no matter how many times their jet skates propel them off the edge of a cliff. And this Fool has gotta keep trying to log on, no matter how much it hurts when the final impact comes. So it goes. By the way, if you need me, I'll be in the broken heap at the bottom of the canyon.

Until next week,
Fool on!

TMF Cheeze
Super Genius

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